Every year there is a something called “The Great Western Stock Show” held in Denver. My mom does a booth there for her job and she gave my family and I tickets to attend. My wife and I are seeking to do something fun everyday with our family to help make memories of this precious time with Trek and we thought the Stock Show was a great idea.
We were wrong.
I should have known something was awry when we drove up to the Denver Coliseum and there were about 5000 cars in a parking lot designed to hold about 10. On top of the lack of space, we were blessed with a $15 fee just for the pleasure of a occupying a space roughly the size of nickel. In any event and regardless of the initial warning signs of doom, we pressed on blissfully ignorant of what awaited us within. We consolidated our bags; proceeded to help Connor put on his snow boots and socks and started for the entrance.
It occurs to me now that I just glossed over something rather important that you may have caught about my son Conner. It is important for the remainder of the story so I might as well share it now. Firstly, Conner doesn’t like wearing clothes. In Maui he preferred to remain nude 100% of the time. In Colorado, with the sub-freezing temperatures, he has increased his clothing regimen to include a pair of underwear. Aside from that, he prefers to bear all. This presents a problem for the rare occasions where we venture out into the world and he is required to wear clothes. He does this partly out kindness to others and partly so he wont freeze to death. While he hates all parts of his wardrobe (save for his undies), there is no question that his least favorite attire are his socks and shoes. (You should ask me about our LAX Adventure sometime). According to him, they make his feet sweaty. Ergo, unless he is standing or walking in them off they come. This presents a bit of a challenge in terms of efficiency because every time we go anywhere I am frequently putting on Conner’s shoes and socks. Upon our arrival to the Stock Show the scene was no different. I walked to the car and proceeded to put on Conner’s shoes and socks, only this time, he didn’t want to wear his special light up tennis shoes, he wanted to wear his big, clunky, snow boots. I proceeded to reason with the young man about how his shoes provided a vastly superior medium for Rodeo Travel and was promptly shot down by everyone in the family (including Trek, he shot me a look) who was appalled at the notion that anyone should do something other than what they wanted to do. Alas I reluctantly affixed his snowboots and proceeded to place his other shoes in my backpack as a backup plan, or so I thought. Remember this moment, because it’s important for later. I’ll give you a hint, I didn’t place the shoes in my back pack, nor did I leave them in the car.
Now where were we, Oh yes, all five of us were joyfully skipping toward the Rodeo Entrance with beaming smiles as we considered all the fun that was to be had. Well, Trek wasn’t skipping, he was more hanging out and really it was more like a frantic jog to the entrance because we were so cold, but Oh well. We reached the entrance and were greeted by an onslaught of population. Honestly, I don’t think if you put everyone on the island of Maui at that Stock Show that it would have been half as crowded. This was the first point that our enthusiasm began to wain, yet we are happy people, everyone seemed to have bright smiles on their faces and enjoying themselves, why not us? We started up the stairway toward whatever joys awaited us and that’s when the first bathroom break of the day was required from my son Peyton. He had to go to the bathroom and it was number two. We plodded back down the stairs and proceeded to go to the bathroom. For those of you who have never been around for a number two event at the Ingram House the scene requires explanation.
For Peyton and Conner going number two is a sacred experience, one might even call it a ritual. There are rules to be observed and I feel it’s only appropriate for me to share them with you now. Rule Number 1: The door must be locked at all times. Rule Number 2: Before pooping, one must strip entirely naked before assuming the squatting position on the toilet (If in a public restroom, socks may be left on, only on a public restroom). Rule Number 3: The adult, who from this point forward will be referred to as “lead wiper” or LW for short, may be present in the room provided no direct eye contact is made. Rule Number 4: When finished wiping must commence in .6 seconds and must be done in the most gentle way possible, preferably with baby wipes. Rule Number 5: After completion of the deed, the LW is responsible for assisting in wardrobe reassembly. Rule Number 6: False alarms are apart of the game and each false alarm requires adherence to rules 1-3 & 5 and will be done as often as necessary. I hope this provides some context for a trip to the bathroom in the Ingram world. Needless to say, on this particular day, I was given the joy of LW (Lead Wiper) and our first trip was a false alarm (see above for details). I redressed the young man and we once again started toward all of the fun to be had at the Rodeo and proceeded upstairs. This is when Peyton decided he really did have to go to number two and he wanted to give it another go. We returned downstairs for a full 6 stage poop and then continued on toward the rodeo. I should probably mention at this point that we had been at the rodeo or in the parking lot for about an hour and we hadn’t made it out of the bathroom.
Another warning sign ignored, we trudged on. Our first goal was to locate my mother, we wandered aimlessly in a sea of people for about half an hour while we searched the crowded halls. In this time my sons purchased 2 dinosaur bubble guns, 2 Candy Apples, and a Large Lolly Pop. While most of this sounds phenomenal, I should provide further details to why all of these things caused my sons anguish. The dinosaur bubble guns, while lovely, both broke within minutes of purchase. I went back to the toy store and replaced them. They broke as well. I feel it is only fair to warn you that if you happen to be at the stock show and are in the market for a dinosaur bubble gun, run away as fast as you can, they are lemons! The candy apples seemed bullet proof. The boys both begged Chelsea and I for them and we were happy to provide the tasty treats for our sons. Upon the first bite there was trouble. Apparently my wife and I inadequately explained what the “apple” part of the Candy Apple meant. They both were under the impression that it was a large ball of chocolate and candy on a stick and they were heart broken at the realization that they had indeed been conned into buying a nutritious item with the facade of deliciousness. Honestly, I can understand their point of view here. Needless to say, for my wife and I this was strike two in terms of us making the rodeo fun. By this time, Conner had started to get a little emotional and we really were counting on this show bringing home the fun. We needed a home run and we were counting on the Kid’s Western Show to be just that and make all of this trouble and disappointment worth it. There was a problem however, in order for us to go to the show we would have to find it, something that proved difficult to do.
For those of you who have ever been to the Great Western Stock Show, you may be aware that there is a magical building that has no signs or directions called the Event Center. For everyone around us, navigating the stock show didn’t seem difficult. There were large smiles and confident groups all around us. My wife and I by comparison were woefully lost and passed the same booth at least four times. Finding a restroom was difficult, finding the event center was impossible. Even when we finally found out where the event center was, we were delayed by our nemesis, old number 2. Both of the boys apparently had contracted some sort of stomach bug and had to be taken to a restroom. As we searched they were literally moaning in pain and crying out their need to use the restroom. Finally we found one. This was my moment to shine, after all, I was the LW (Lead Wiper) for the day. Peyton went first, then Conner. After a full stage 1-6 poo from both of them we started to exit the restroom. Then they alerted me that they had to go again, two for the price of one, how exciting! We went through the ritual again and at this point I’m pretty sure Chelsea was growing largely concerned as my sons and I had been in the handicap stall for around half an hour (we made it out before she alerted security thankfully). After finishing round two, Peyton looked at me with an observation that was as follows: “Dad, this place is sick. Not good sick, bad sick. It stinks, there too many people, it’s just crazy stupid.” Connor nodded and added his own sentiments which I cannot recall because I was laughing so hard at my children. I can honestly say that the best part of my day was in that handicap stall laughing at my wonderful sons.
After exiting, my wife was nervous as to what took so long. Her fears were quickly assayed however when she saw the smiles on our faces. She and I began to appreciate the humor in our commitment to enjoy the rodeo and began to actually have a good time in our misery. We thought that we finally had an emotional handle on the day and proceeded to the event center. This is when Connor’s heavy snow boots began to take their toll. Apparently they had become so heavy that he was unable to walk and needed to be carried. Even a free ride on dad could not hold back the emotional torrent that was brimming inside him. A few minutes later Conner was in tears begging to leave. Peyton reasserted his position earlier stated. My wife and I looked at each other, laughed and agreed to head to the car. We retraced our steps and half an hour later we found ourselves at the car. Everyone, even Trek, was laughing at how silly that day was at the rodeo and how would never do that again.
While in the car, we began to reflect on the day and laugh at how it transpired. My lovely wife, Chelsea, saw fit at this point to rate my performance as a Father on a scale of 1-10. She graciously and seriously gave me a 4 out of 10. This only increased my laughter and everyone laughter for that matter. We proceeded to the highway to head home.
Now, if any of you have pressed on this far you may be asking yourself, “What about Conner’s shoes, didn’t he say they would come up later?” Indeed I did, and now they will. As I drove the car onto the I-70 West on ramp my wife and I heard a large thump. I watched in horror as Conner’s special and favorite tennis shoes plummeted from the top our our car and onto the interstate. My wife and I locked eyes for a moment in the rear view mirror as Conner innocently asked, “What was that?” We tried to distract him but honest Abe, AKA Peyton, kept insisting that it was indeed Conner’s shoes that fell off the vehicle and we should stop trying to change the subject. Apparently, when I was supposed to put the shoes in my back pack, I left them on top of the vehicle. A mistake to be sure and one that could emotionally ruin my son forever. At this point, we had a choice: Abandon the shoes, seek out replacements, and deal with Conner’s emotional woes or brave on coming traffic and be the hero for my son.
While I let you ponder that choice I would like to bring up a moment from my child hood that has scared me for life. It happened when I was four and it involved my Father dropping my shoes into a water feature in the city of Dallas. I still have a memory (in slow motion I might add) of the red and white tennis shoe plummeting into the base of the waterfall and my shoes being lost forever. I was not going to let that happen to my son. In an instant, I turned the vehicle around and returned to the spot where the shoes had committed suicide. There was no choice to be made, traffic could be risked to save his shoes. Minutes later, I had the shoes in hand and Conner’s smiling face made it worth it all.
Upon reflection, our trip to the Rodeo taught us a few things: 1)We are island folks who should probably keep away from crowds. 2) Always go for the shoes and 3) When performing the role of LW, make sure to pack extra wipes.